Kari is doing well. Her spirits remain good. She is so positive and encouraging with everyone and is working very hard. The nurses are requesting to continue to care for her, even though they are supposed to rotate to another floor, because they want to get to know her better! Even other patient family members are asking about her and commenting on how wonderful she must be! We can all confirm that!
Today, I was moving her right arm around and she was able to twist (pronate) her right forearm, between the elbow and the wrist from a thumbs up position to a palm down position several times! This is the first day she could do this movement! She also is continuing to bend both elbows (right stronger than left), and has some shoulder movement, too. When lying on the bed or semi-reclined, if support is given at her elbow, wrist and hand, she can help lift her right arm up, rotate her arm in and out, and extend her shoulder to pull her arm down towards the bed. If the bed is up higher, gravity makes it harder for her to move and she fatiques quickly.
Today the speech therapists put some blue food coloring on her tongue and had her work on swallowing it. They wanted to see if the saliva and food coloring would go down the right tube in to her stomach and not into her lungs. Kari could tell she was able to swallow it and when they suctioned out the trach tube later to check, there was not any blue coloring in it! We were all very excited! Tomorrow they will try pudding or applesauce (she preferred chocolate pudding) and if that goes well, they will try liquids next. They deflated a balloon in her throat to do this swallow test, and as a result of that, she could get enough air through her vocal cords (and mouth) to produce a weak voice! She said she was trying to use some of her high school and college vocal training to isolate the air better through her cords to increase the voice volume. She did so great! She got to do this for around 10 minutes and the speech therapists were very impressed. Later the surgeon stated he is very optimistic she will eventually be able to have the trach removed and since the trach is well below the "voice box" he did not express significant concern about her voice after the trach removal. (This is an incredible comfort to her and others who have experienced Kari's beautiful singing voice.)
The surgeon also stated the spinal incision is healing well, the sutures will come out tonight, and if she promises to limit her neck turning right and left, she can leave the neck collar open in the front when she is lying in bed. She promised to be very good and apologized for her vigorous head shaking right and left recently. (I don't think any of us realized she needed to limit her neck movement a little more than she was, while she was wearing the neck brace.) After a little while with it off, she wanted the head of the bed up further so she requested to have the front of it strapped back on. It is just so nice to have that option!
Kari is initiating all of her breaths today and the ventilator continues to give her pressure support which apparently makes it easier to take a deeper breath. They are planning to continue to decrease the amount of pressure support from the ventilator as they can, which will help wean her off the ventilator. She has significantly less secretions today, is swallowing better and needs little or no suctioning.
This morning, Aaron was explaining to her what he observed in his tour of Craig rehab unit. He listed all the programs, the facilities, etc, and stated they had a church there they could attend. She shook her head"no". When he asked why, she stated she wanted to start her own church there. Isn't that just like Kari! She is already figuring out how and where she will be able to continue to minister to others! Aaron also made her smile when he stated they will need to get some sort of 4 wheel drive wheelchair or other vehicle so they can continue to go out into the national parks of California they love so much.
Early this afternoon Kari wanted to tell the details of the accident as she could remember them. I can't include them all here, Aaron is creating a timeline to be posted on the website, but she did clearly see two angels with her there under the car, smiling at her and comforting her.
Update by Shona Fowler